Album Review: Xiu Xiu – Girl with Basket of Fruit

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Artist: Xiu Xiu

Album: Girl with Basket of Fruit

Genre: Experimental/Art Rock/Noise

Rating: 8/10

“Xiu Xiu” are an interesting band to say the least. Lead by sole member Jamie Stewart, this vastly eccentric band have been making music since the early 2000’s. Music that has gained admirers for their brash experimentation soaked in tumult, and also music that has gained detractors who find the band incredibly grating. I understand both parties to be honest, because whether the band are creating disturbing songs about double penetration, or reimagining the soundtrack to David Lynch’s “Twin Peaks,” one thing is certain, their music is not easy to listen to. On one hand I’ll admire the band’s uncompromising style, and on the other I can find them immensely self-indulgent and utterly repulsive, but that’s why I find the band so damn intriguing. By now, going into a “Xiu Xiu” album, I expect to hear some bizarre shit, but somehow the band managed to achieve what I thought was impossible after so many years, the band managed to make their most uncomfortable, disgusting, insane, and off putting album yet with Girl with Basket of Fruit, and it’s in my opinion their best work. This album sounds like the mindset of someone who is losing their entire God damn mind. Filled with ramblings of nonsensical words I’ve tried to decipher but have failed greatly, this album is a haunting nightmare-inducing experience. The album opens with the title track, an off the wall Hell ride that features abrasive tribal drums, manic sound textures, and Jamie’s obnoxious vocals with graphic lyrics detailing frogs jumping up a woman’s butthole, fucking a duck, and floating dicks. Yeah, it’s so absurd and humorous that even Jamie is aware enough to scream “Stop Laughing!” in the middle of one of the verses. The psychotic nature heightens even more on the following track “It Comes Out As A Joke,” where Jamie sounds like he’s in the midst of a bad acid trip while he destroys everything in his room. Picture Bob Geldof destroying his guitars and breaking furniture in Pink Floyd’s “The Wall.” It’s that kind of intensity but this song is even worse and makes that particular scene look like “Sesame Street.” The more ambient tracks like “Armargi ve Moo,” or “Ice Cream Truck” are more somber in tone, but are no less bizarre, with Jamie continuing to frantically rant these cryptic lyrics, and scathing violin that is the complete opposite of beautiful. Odd instrumental choices like these frequently appear throughout the album, like the weird chicken sound effects and incomprehensible audio clips on “Pumpkin Attack on Mommy and Daddy,” or the atmospheric sounds with tribalistic drums that echo the opening track on “Scisssssssors,” and with the bass in this production turned abrasively up and sounding intentionally  messy, it’s clear that the band wanted to create their most unsettling album yet, and my have they succeeded. Can this album become a bit of a gimmick at times? Most definitely, but what prevents this album from becoming a complete parody of “Industrial” or “Noise” music is that we all know by now the artistry of the band is completely sincere. They’re never about shock for shock’s sake, and Jamie sings on these tracks with overwhelming passion, but what most of these songs mean, whether they’re metaphoric or just flat-out nonsense is beyond me. I just strap myself in and enjoy this psychotic ride with a smile on my face. Maybe I need help.

Written By: Steven Sandoval 

Date: 02/13/19

Track Review: WYVZ – Rescue Annie

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Artist: WYVZ

Song: Rescue Annie

Genre: Electronic/Experimental/IDM

“Everything sounds the same.” This statement couldn’t be more true when describing the current landscape of most genre music. Especially in the world of “Electronic” music. Though we do have our imaginative visionaries who push the boundaries and offer more than the four to the floor predictability, most casual listeners are accustomed to the idea that “Electronic” music is one-dimensional, and that’s unfortunate, but “Electronic” group “WYVZ” are here to break that monotony. The aforementioned quote comes from the group’s new single “Rescue Annie,” where vocalist Devon Travis sings with melancholy fervor, and though the vocals evoke sadness, there’s also a hint of hope in his tone, and that contrast is beautifully executed. The instrumentation provided by member Georgia McEwen-Hall is what powerfully pushes the boundaries and displays the vast possibilities of “Electronic” experimentation. “WYVZ” is her brainchild, and her creation is truly captivating. Her previous E.P. Triangle showcased her innovative style, and now with “Rescue Annie” she has moved to the next level. With subtle atmospherics that have a meditative nature, the track builds and builds without being too overblown. The track carries a consistent tone that never bombards the listener with an obnoxious climax, but the attention to detail and the subtle progression keeps that track away from repetition. Everything from the arpeggiated bass in the beginning, to the Sci-Fi laden synths, to the eruption of clean percussion, this track is immaculately produced. Georgia McEwen-Hall is a producer to pay attention to, and now that “WYVZ” is a collaborative effort with fellow talented artists Devon Travis and Okee Brand who handles the technical side of things, this is an exciting moment for “Electronic” and “Experimental” music. A new full-length album is on the horizon, and hopefully the band doesn’t make us wait too long for it.

Written By: Steven Sandoval

Date: 01/24/19

 

 

Top 15 EPs of 2018

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In this streaming age of music we’re leaving in now, it’s becoming harder and harder to differentiate an EP from an LP. Nowadays anyone can make a 25 minute album and call it a full-length LP, or even make a five track album and call it a full-length. Just look at the latest criminally short six track “LP” from “Nine Inch Nails,” or the string of Kanye produced seven track albums Mr. West dubbed “full-lengths” this year. Album length has become irrelevant, but to those of us who still hold the idea of the EP near and dear, those short bursts of creativity are still very much important in the music world. They still give us that hope that a full-length album from the artist might be on the horizon, or sometimes, those short but sweet releases are all we need. There were a great deal of EPs released this year, and many of them can’t go by unnoticed. Here are my top 15 EPs of 2018.

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15. Artist: Tyler, The Creator

      EP: Music Inspired by Illumination & Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch 

     Genre: Hip Hop/R&B

 Tyler, The Creator’s creativity has moved into film now with his recent musical contributions to The Grinch movie. To coincide with the release of the film, Tyler dropped an E.P. inspired by the film. It is a fun Christmas filled listen packed with 80’s sounding synths and the tracks never stray away into cheesiness, which is no easy feat considering they’re inspired by a Dr. Seuss story. 

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14. Artist: Femme

       EP: 2.0

      Genre: Electronic/House/Pop

 Laura Bettinson under the “Femme” name has been creating delightful “Indie Pop” for awhile now, and on her new E.P. 2.0 She delves into the world of “House” music while keeping her Pop sensibilities. The result is a solid set of dance ready tracks that emphasize fun and optimism.

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13. Artist: Little Dragon

       EP: Lover Chanting

      Genre: Electronic/Synth Pop

 Little Dragon’s latest LP Season High was a bit of a step back for the band. Much of it seemed phoned in, and lacked the ambition their previous work had filled with colorful synth heavy Pop and just the right amount of odd experimental elements. The band have definitely redeemed themselves though with their new E.P. Lover Chanting. Being three tracks in length, the E.P. gets back to the band’s sense of fun, and is probably their most danceable release to date.

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12. Artist: Wallows

      EP: Spring

      Genre: Indie Rock/Indie Pop

 It’s a bit ironic that the latest E.P. from L.A. based Indie Rock band “Wallows” is titled Spring considering the fact that all the tracks have a nice summery vibe to them. To some this E.P. might be a by the numbers “Indie Rock” release, but to others it’s undeniably addicting. I just can’t resist it.

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11. Artist: Protomartyr and Spray Paint

       EP: Irony Prompts A Party Rat

      Genre: Post-Punk/Indie Rock

 Post-Punk band “Protomartyr” had a busy year. They released a stellar EP, began a tour with “Preoccupations,” and even released a split single with “Preoccupations” where both bands covered each, but a more interesting split single to come out of the band’s work this year is most definitely their split single with the band “Spray Paint.” On this single, “Protomartyr’s” lead singer Joe Casey provided lead vocals for a new “Spray Paint” track, and the lead singer of “Spray Paint” provided lead vocals for a new “Protomartyr” track. It’s a match made in “Post-Punk” heaven, because the chemistry between the two bands is undeniable. 

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10. Artist: Screaming City

       EP: The Vanish

      Genre: Post-Punk/Darkwave/Electronic 

 Visalia, California’s own “Screaming City” released a string of Electronic tinged “Industrial Rock” that spanned three EPs this year, but the biggest gem of the three is without a doubt The Vanish. This release found sole member and multi-instrumentalist Trip Logic going in a heavier guitar-driven direction without sacrificing his Electronic roots. Everything from the lyrical content to the myriad of Experimental elements in the instrumentation that impressively manages to maintain catchiness, this whole E.P. showcases the immense versatility Trip Logic has, and there’s nowhere to go from here but up. 

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9. Artist: Code Orange

    EP: The Hurt Will Go On

    Genre: Metalcore/Industrial Metal

 “Code Orange” are one of those forward thinking bands that make stubborn “Metalcore” traditionalists shout about how “lame” they are for Incorporating outsider genres that aren’t typically explored in “Metalcore,” but guys, put down your Monster energy drink for a minute and admit that the genre has become a bit predictable. “Code Orange” are here to break the stale nature of the genre, and it’s much needed. Following their breakout album Forever, the band dropped a nice E.P. titled The Hurt Will Go On this year, and it’s an impactful reminder that the band are ahead of the game at the moment. Packed with heavy aggression, the “Industrial” and “Nu-Metal” elements the band are known for, and even a Corey Taylor feature, this release has many of us eager to hear another full-length album from the band. Hopefully next year we’ll get what we’re wishing for.

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8. Artist: S. Reidy

    EP: And Here With You, I Am

    Genre: Hip Hop/Alternative Hip Hop

 The fact that an artist like S. Reidy isn’t mentioned when conversations about “Emo Rap” are sparked is ridiculous. The rapper/producer sounds like what “Emo Rap” should sound like. His latest E.P. And Here With You, I Am is far from being one-dimensional. The production consists of simplistic but effective beats, moody acoustic guitars, atmospheric soundscapes, poetic lyrical content, and vocals that evoke the “Emo Rock” spirit. To simply label him “Emo Rap” would not do his music justice, but he’s delivering the moody introspection that other rappers in the game should strive for, and he doesn’t need tattoos on his face to do it.

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7. Artist: Converge

    EP: Beautiful Ruin

   Genre: Metalcore/Hardcore Punk

 Leave it to “Metalcore” legends “Converge” to drop a four track E.P. out of the blue to show the youngsters how it’s done. The band’s recent E.P. Beautiful Ruin is unsparingly monstrous and is among some of the band’s most aggressive work. 

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6. Artist: Childish Gambino

    EP: Summer Pack

   Genre: Soul/R&B/Pop

 We unfortunately didn’t get a new Childish Gambino album this year, but mastermind Donald Glover was definitely not quiet. Following the impactful music video for his single “This Is America” that lead to countless think pieces and theories, Glover dropped a two track E.P. titled Summer Pack. Though the tracks were a lot more laid back and summery on the surface this time around, this didn’t stop fans from formulating theories about how there is an underlying message about climate change and the state of our distractions of social media and celebrity culture. Whatever the message may be, these are fun soulful songs. 

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5. Artist: Chelsey and The Noise

     EP: Blank Frames

   Genre: Industrial/Electronic/EBM

 Who says “Industrial” music and “Pop” music can’t coexist? Hayward, CA based duo “Chelsey and The Noise” proved that “Industrial” can be catchy with their E.P. Blank Frames this year. With hard hitting synth heavy production and Metal infused guitars, the duo incorporate pop sensibilities without giving into the typical predictability “Pop” music is known for. This music is catchy, sexy, dark, and at times sentimental, displaying the immense versatility the two have to offer. 

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4. Artist: Protomartyr

     EP: Consolation

     Genre: Post-Punk/Indie Rock

 “Post-Punk” band “Protomartyr” released quite possibly their best album last year, which most definitely earned them the right to take a break for awhile because one would assume that you would need to take a break after you give your all on an album, but the band aren’t ready to take a break just yet. The band released an impressive E.P. this year titled Consolation and this four track E.P. progressed the band’s sound even further. Incorporating string arrangements and even collaborating with Kelley Deal of “The Breeders,” this release proves that the band work well with other musicians while not completely abandoning their signature sound. Is this the direction they’re heading in? Time will tell, but one thing is for sure, they’re still the leading force in modern “Post-Punk.” 

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3. Artist: HMLTD

    EP: Hate Music Last Time Delete

    Genre: Synth Pop/Post-Punk/New Wave

 “HMLTD” are quite possibly the most exciting band at the moment. You never know what to expect when going into a new track of theirs, and they haven’t even released a full-length album! Following a diverse string of singles that found the band exploring Post-Punk, Synth Pop, Electronic Music, Gothic Rock, Glam Rock, and whatever else the band feels like dabbling in, the band released a new E.P. this year titled Hate Music Last Time Delete, and it is a cohesive effort that sticks to a Synth Pop/New Wave formula. The band have proven that they can perfect just about any genre they pursue, but it’s clear they wanted to give us their own warped version of “Synth Pop” on this E.P. This music is fun and danceable, but the lyrical content deals with important themes such as social network addiction, learning to love yourself, oh, and falling in love with a mannequin. It’s a good time that leaves you begging for more.

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2. Artist: Ravyn Lenae

    EP: Crush

    Genre: R&B/Soul/Alternative R&B

 Among the recent emergence of talented young artists from Chicago such as Noname, Saba, and Mick Jenkins, Ravyn Lenae has been garnering much attention for her beautiful artistry that finds the young singer delivering smooth “R&B” that isn’t afraid to branch out of traditional “R&B” sensibilities. Her latest E.P. Crush is a fitting title, because it’s impossible not to swoon and fall for her gorgeous vocals and attention to Soulful and at times off-kilter production provided by the one and only Steve Lacy. Lenae is one of the youngest artists in the realm of “R&B” at the moment, but her sound exudes immense maturation, and it’s clear she’s on a forward thinking path. Here’s to hoping she blesses us with a full length debut album next year. 

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1. Artist: CMON

    EP: Confusing Mix Of Nations

    Genre: Post-Punk/Synth Pop/New Wave

 There’s no doubt in my mind that L.A. based duo “CMON” (or Confusing Mix Of Nation’s) debut E.P. is the best of 2018, and there’s no doubt in my mind that this is the best E.P. you haven’t heard. Absent from every major streaming service other than their own personal SoundCloud, the band most likely slipped under your radar this year, and that’s unfortunate because their debut five track E.P. is the stuff 80’s Post-Punk/New Wave revivalist dreams are made of. The lush and dreamy guitars, the “House” driven percussion that reflects “New Order’s” heyday, and the subtle but infectious vocals are all promising elements that should put the band on your radar. With very little information about the band online, it’s hard to dig deep into their background, but let’s all hope and pray they continue to release stellar material.

Written By: Steven Sandoval 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ADULT. Share New Music Video for New Track “Violent Shakes”

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Detroit “Electronic” duo “ADULT.” are set to release their new album This Behavior tomorrow, and while we wait the band have given us another taste of the album with a new track off the album titled “Violent Shakes,” as well as a music video to accompany it. The video features a dance performed by dancer Biba Bell. You can watch the video below:

Thom Yorke Shares New Track From His Upcoming “Suspiria” Soundtrack

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If you’re a Horror fan, then chances are you’re eagerly anticipating the new “Suspiria” remake, and if you’re a fan of Thom Yorke, then chances are you’re eagerly anticipating the film score he composed for the film. If you just so happen to be a fan of both, well, I don’t need to explain how much of a treat it is to see both worlds intertwine. Now, to satisfy our hunger with a little appetizer, Thom Yorke has shared a track off the upcoming soundtrack titled “Suspirium.” The soundtrack will be released on October 26th, and the film will be released on November 2nd. You can listen to “Suspirium” below:

 

Dead Can Dance Announce New Album “DIONYSUS”

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“Dead Can Dance” are one of the few bands from the 80’s “Goth” scene that have a consistent discography, and they are one of the few bands in the scene that have managed to branch out of the scene to the point where simply labeling them “Goth” does not do the band’s music justice with their explorations in “World” music and “Experimental” music. Now, six years after their comeback release Anastasis, the band will release a new album titled DIONYSUS on November 2nd, and they will also embark on a tour next May. You can pre-order the album as well as view tour dates below:

https://www.musicglue.com/deadcandance

Tropical Fuck Storm and Liars Announce New Split 7″

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Australian band “Tropical Fuck Storm” released one of the year’s most enthralling and deliciously bizarre albums back in May, and now the band have teamed up with Experimental legends “Liars” to release a split 7″ titled LAMC No. 18, which will be released on September 28th. This will be part of Famous Class’ Less Artists More Condos series, with all proceeds donated to the ACLU. You can listen to the new “Tropical Fuck Storm” track “The Happiest Guy Around,” as well as pre-order the 7″ below:

https://famousclass.bandcamp.com/album/lamc-18